Three contractors have been indicted by the Bronx District Attorney’s office for manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges in the death of a construction worker. The victim was Segundo Manuel Huerta Mayancela, who was crushed by 1,000 pounds of debris at the construction site in 2019. 5 other construction workers suffered injury in the accident. The contractors involved in the incident have been charged for falsifying credentials, flouting safety standards and disregarding worker’s protections.
The contractors were charged for creating egregiously dangerous conditions at the building site, where they flouted building safety codes and ignored worker’s protections. According to the investigation carried out jointly by the NYC Department of Investigation and the Bronx DA, the contractors falsified credentials and permits and ignored oversight requirements, creating a dangerously unstable structure that led to Mayancela’s death.
The Bronx DA, Darcel D. Clark, said that the death of Segundo Manuel Huerta Mayancela was entirely preventable and that the construction site was a death trap waiting to happen. She emphasized that workers are not expendable, and anyone who puts construction workers at risk in an already hazardous profession would be held accountable. Clark also highlighted that the case predates the Carlos’ Law, which was enacted to create greater accountability for tragic and avoidable injury to workers at New York construction sites and increase penalties for criminal corporate liability for the death or serious physical injury of an employee.
New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber added that the defendants failed to follow the law and carry out their most basic responsibilities, which included ensuring safety standards were met. Strauber commended the Bronx District Attorney’s office for bringing the prosecution and thanked the Department of Buildings for assisting in the investigation. Acting Commissioner of the Department of Buildings, Kazimir Vilenchik, said that the defendants’ disregard for the City’s construction safety regulations was reprehensible and that negligence on the worksite would not be tolerated.
The contractors charged were Augustine Adesanmi, the owner of Favored Design and Construction, who was engaged in the actual construction; Akhlak Choudhary, the owner of Pioneer General Construction, who was the general contractor for the project; Abazi Okoro, the owner of Linzi Construction, who was the construction superintendent at the site; and Fatos Mustafaj. Adesanmi was charged with second-degree manslaughter, while Adesanmi, Choudhary and Okoro were charged with criminally negligent homicide. Adesanmi and Mustafaj were also charged with second-degree grand larceny, and Choudhary was charged with four counts of offering a false instrument for filing.
The defendants were arraigned before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Guy Mitchell on April 11, 2023, and were put on supervised release. They are due back in court on June 8, 2023. Choudhary has not yet been arrested. The case is a stark reminder of the importance of following safety standards in the construction industry and the consequences of disregarding them.
Picture of the Bronx DA: Courtesy of the Office of the Bronx District Attorney